Legal Aid: An Overview
Petitions to the Constitutional Court have to be filed by a lawyer and are subject to court fees. As an appeal to the Constitutional Court should not fail as a result of a litigant’s inability to afford the cost of Constitutional Court proceedings, legal aid may be granted pursuant to section 35 of the Constitutional Court Act (Verfassungsgerichtshofgesetz, VfGG) in conjunction with[VR1] sections 63 ff. of the Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung, ZPO).
Persons with a low income and lack of financial resources may apply for an exemption from court fees and/or free-of-charge legal counsel.
The application for legal aid is not subject to fees and does not have to be filed by a lawyer. However, your application has to name the case for which you request legal aid, and you have to state whether you are applying for an exemption from the filing fee or for free-of-charge legal counsel, or both.
The application form and wealth disclosure statement may be submitted to the Constitutional Court electronically, by post or in person: Legal aid application forms.
The application form for submission by post or in person is available at the office of the Constitutional Court and can also be downloaded from the Constitutional Court’s website (see Legal aid application forms). It is designed so that applicants can fill it in on a PC before printing and signing it.
The application may be electronically submitted, using the form entitled „Verfahrenshilfe beim Verfassungsgerichtshof – Antrag auf Bewilligung“ (“Legal aid at the Constitutional Court – application for approval”). Submission by e-mail is not an admissible form of electronic submission (see section 14a para 1 VfGG in conjunction with the regulation issued by the President of the Constitutional Court on the electronic submission and transmission of written statements and supporting documents thereto, official documents issued by the Constitutional Court, and copies of written statements and supporting documents thereto.
If the petition for which you want to apply for legal aid is subject to a time limit, then the application for legal aid must also be submitted within this time limit (if, for example, the application for legal aid is made in connection with a complaint against an administrative decision, then the application must be submitted within 6 weeks from the date of service of the decision).
The ruling of the Constitutional Court regarding your application for legal aid will be communicated to you in writing, including further information you will need.